Lin Dan saves two match points in All England thriller

London (AFP) –


Six-time champion Lin Dan staved off two match points as he won his first-round match at this year's All England badminton championships on Thursday.

In what could be the 36-year-old Chinese star's last All England, the double Olympic gold medallist and five-time world champion defeated Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn, a player half his age, 13-21, 22-20, 21-10 in just over an hour in Birmingham.

Vitidsarn, a three-time world junior champion, was well in command at 16-10 and 18-3 up in the second game after taking the first but could not close the match out, with Lin going on to complete a fine comeback in decisive fashion in the third.

Lin will now face a familiar foe when he next plays Chen Long, the reigning Olympic champion and himself a two-time All England winner.

Chen had an easier passage into the second round, beating India's Kidambi Srikanth 21-15, 21-16.

Meanwhile England's Marcus Ellis had a day to remember as he made it into doubles quarter-finals.

Ellis and Lauren Smith beat Japanese fourth seeds Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino 21-15, 21-10 in the mixed.

Later on, Ellis and his Olympic bronze medal partner Chris Langridge saw off Indonesian fifth seeds Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto 21-14, 21-15 in the men's doubles.

But women's top seeds Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan of China put an end to England's day of doubles delight with a 21-16, 22-20 victory over Smith and Chloe Birch.